Shaggy-coated, draped
Like a shabby student throw
Used as wall art; feather
Duster-ends to streaked wings
Folded in, double-backed,
Used but for balance.

Long-fringed; twitching eyes;
Articulate toes, grip the river-edge,
High-kneed, deliberate strides,
Avoid the trip wires; trigger alarms;
His reflection, his shadow;
Exist only in another plane.

Below, winding fish shoals
Edge closer to the bank,
Attracted by the briny aeration
Of a stream crackling down rocks;
They are observed,
With detached focus.

The spear-point head retracts;
The neck, curved yet taught;
The prey… oblivious.


The Monster Munches

Sat in his car, his jaw
Gyrates like a camel mouth;
Lips, wobble around their orbit
Some distant star, pulling;
Meteors of corn-snack crumbs
Whizz through space.
His lap, the fetid remains of
Big Bang Meal Deals
Mildewed monthly remnants
Revealing the past
Like mouldy litter-strewn tree rings;
He surveyed his solar system –
A passive aggressive deity
Passing judgement
On all mortal life.

The dog, outside,
Sniffed the car door hopefully –
Opportunistic, no doubt
For pork pie jelly bits,
Or sausage roll scraps,
Or a dreamy cheese triangle,
Discarded; oblivious
To the Omnipotent God-head
Bedecked in drapes of finest Hi-Viz,
Appraising us haughtily,
Through finger-smeared
Window glass.

He looked at me, sneering
In snack-fuelled superiority
Silver-foil mouth spewing pink puffs
Of extruded plasti-food;
His dusty orifice mindlessly fed
Calorie-rich emptiness
From bratwurst fingers.

If only we were worthy –
Sharing his majesty;
Eating at his high table;
Destined for those Hallowed Halls
Where only those who die
At the hands of deep-fried
Live an infernal life.


A golden-threaded arrowhead
Progresses purposefully, advancing –
A clamourous goose skein,
Pulled by its invisible cord, forwards
Forwards; loping; up
And drop, up and drop,
Steady drum beats
Holding them fast in time and space;
Their ancient puppet-master
Corralling an insistent momentum.

A drone-eyed view,
Hovering above and within them
Would see with their eyes –
See their perspective, the
Long waves of magnetic road
Converging on distant horizons
Glowing in their mind-eye –
An addictive ferric aurora.

They can see, yet not see
A far-off tundra-edge
Raked by rasping breath
Off glistening ice mountains;
Behind, a temporal arc
From spring meadows –
The azure promise long gone,
And memories, fading memories,
Beaten into new futures
By honking wings,
Punching their eddies;
Thumping concealed vortices
In crystal clear air;
On, on, unerring.

Corners of Fecundity

Sharp up by the dog-tired
Londis; wedged-in
By funky Biffa Bins
And that flaking breeze-block wall;
Jammed and jimmied in behind
Broken fence slats, mossy with
Creosote, is a fructuous lee;
A wind-shadow –
A ghost-less liminal nook –
Where the spirits can’t be arsed;
Where gaze falls,
Yet just sees
The lottery scratch-cards
And deals on chilled Monster.
Yet, for all this, it is

A corner of fecundity;
Here, a strange loam builds –
Fuelled by unloved chaff;
The part-gnawed crusts, damp
Of a once-mighty Ginsters;
Sleazy scalenes of a BLT half;
No B, just T, these days,
Squalid off-cuts of
This and that,
Tumbled to the floor, indelicately
Cobbed, from a rattling Fiesta –
To settle with Batter bits,
Gum wrappers, Stella cans
From yesteryear, jewels
Of chipped bottle glass,
And meaty faggots of wind-rolled leaves.

In this ill-favoured sod, where
Biodiversity meets perversity,
Time acts patiently, un-judging;
Allied by micro-beasts –
That chomp, and puke and fart –
To make this urban grow-bag,
Where, mulched by half-chewed
Kebab barf, *those* iceberg shreds
And a hospitable crack
At the wall base, up rises –
Nourished by chilli sauce
And malodorous Mango cola –
A juvenile ash, racing for the sun
Past the Biffas and soffits and such –
Levering the mortar and breeze blocks
Apart; bent on earning an ASBO.


Ever since I took the name
‘Magpie’, for this
Thing, here,
I’ve been seeing them
Everywhere; saluting them;
Asking of their families;
And their darling children –
No, just continuing
A long line; a tradition,
Of stuff and nonsense.

Still, the magpie
Took on a persona –
Mercurial; mystical;
Imbued with powers
From the Earth, or
Magnetic fields;
Or limbic energies,
Spiritual fluxes
From other worlds;
Realms beyond our knowing…

…And all that.
Until, that was,
Out on my bike
I must have
Disturbed one of them,
Them perishers,
That black & white flash, stalling;
Ramming on his emergency brakes;
Skidding to a halt in front of me
Tyre marks, mid-air;
He was speeding, for sure.
And darting back, guiltily
Into the shadowed blackthorn.

You’ve dropped your bag
I mouthed, as the leather
Satchel thing, whatever –
Dropped from his mouth.
But no; it was a baby chick
A blue tit; neck bent
Backwards; closed eyes
Skewiff; all over the shop
Its little legs.
Butchered, by Mr Magpie.
Harvested, for his wife;
Dinner, for his children.

And yet, all I could hear
All I could think of,
At the moment of this crime
Was Chris Packham’s
Snorting, orgasmic laughs –
It is the nature of things

And with it, spirit energies
Dissolved, met a reality
Head on.

He’s out

The enigma, the maverick,
For years living amongst us
One of us, with us,
Cheery hellos
An urbanite bon-viveur;
Stories of distant lands,
Different worlds –
Of legends, lattes and luz
Of adventure, treasure, discovery;
Pushing, challenging, creating –
One of us, with us –
All a deception, a mask
Lie upon lie
Some of us suspected
Some wary…
Lie upon lie
With us, to us
Many enjoyed the roller coaster
The ride on the tiger’s back;
Armed with stories and craft and guile
Seeking friendship
Seeking money.
For the long arm tapped his shoulder –
A two year vacation –
Food, bed, togs and tags
All freely provided
At our expense.

He’s out.
Amongst us, 
Liking us,
But one of us?
With us?

You’d think.

You’d think
That when you know the time
When it leaves, the train
You’d think
That maybe
You’d be ready
You know?
Pack up
Stop gassing
Leave the meeting
But no –
You think
You’re too important
Too critical
To leave
On time.
So now, we watch
And snigger
As you
Totteringly wobble
Click clack
Swayingly sashay
On your high heels
Twisting ankles
Turning heads
Clasping hands
Macchiato in the one
Mulberry in the other
Smart phone
Unsmartly wedged
Under diamanté ear studs
You’d think
You’d care.
You’d think.

Sly Old Sun

Glazed eyes with tiredness
Another morning, up before
Any right-thinking folk should be;
Slowly rising,
Like the sly old sun
Nefariously peeking
Over the distant hedge
Pulling aside net curtains
Spying, shiftily –
Like that Mrs Scofield
Our dinner lady, crotchety
And her husband who
We hoped was dead –
Now its piercing stare
Like the salty swash over
Lustrous shingle –
She had that, did Scofield
Always scratching –
Accentuating forms
Under its low gaze
Crystalline puddles, froze,
The veins of leaves,  protrude,
Like her temples
When she barked at us
Most mornings.

Outsourced Eyes

At this hour,
Beneath the stony rictus gaze
Of Mr. Stephenson, the founder here,
This station approach –
Euston’s grand lobby –
Is laid bare with concrete carpet tiles,
Gauzy vanes and barbs
Of jettisoned pigeon feathers
Trod in chuddy,
Fuchsia pink fag butts –
Is all a furore; the hurly-burly
Of bodily momentum –
A haphazard helter skelter
Randomly rushing to toil;
Skittering, zag-ziggingness
Thither, hither, hubbub
Close-calls, near misses
Auto-pilot adjustments
Avoiding gazes, muttered pardons
Wide-loads, pushed out elbows
Dropped shoulders, in mock attack
Shibuya Crossing;
Times Square;
Oxford Circus;
Purposed busyness.

One set of eyes is blind to it all;
Feeling only, the light brushing
Of arm against coat;
Feeling only, the soft nudge
Of meaningless apologies;
Feeling only, the paper cut edges
Of leaves in the wind on dry skin –
Arm outstretched,
Outsourced eyes steer him
Surely, truly, forward –
A bollard missed;
A tourist’s brolly, evaded;
Unfalteringly forward –
With calm, with trust,
Doggedly forward –
Towards the bright light
Of the rising sun over the city,
And a thousand scents, ignored.

Location, Location

Down in the cutting,
The 7 o’clock fug of fumes lies
Duvet soft, a drifting blanket;
Up the sides,
Birches and hornbeams –
Cheap trees of the Council –
Rise scrubbily; bark-smeered
With oily, bletchy fingers
Seemingly; scratty yet proud,
Tall and whippy too –
Shooting up, drunk on
Drugs of digger-turned earth
And airborne vits –
Sarny crusts; pasty bits,
Bruised bananas, apple pips.

At this hour, tired eyes
Steer tyred wheels;
Eyeing greedily,
Viscerally dazed imaginings
Of half-grabbed croissants,
Or Tommy-Tippy coffee.
Engines, nose to tail, breathe raspily
Diaphragmatically deep on methane
And obnoxiously noxious NOx.

High up though,
Here, in this unprepossessing roost,
Crows and rooks perch precariously
And sway –
Not in isolation
But in metropoli…
Squabbling, bustling, bursting;
Nests stacked on nests,
Ribbon development
Along branch, stem and twig;
Three-story town houses,
Bijou flats in the beeches up front
Back to backs at the back –
Twiggily and twittly chattering –
Social clubs; staycations,
Meat raffles, morning fêtes –
Location, location, location.

Below the fumes,
Below the grass,
Below Kit-Kat shards
And asthma canisters –
The grumbling rumbles,
The resonant roars,
The thrumming quakes,
Are a call to arms
Rain! Shout the worms
Rain! Time to move
Rain! Time to breathe
Up! Up! Up!

And down come the birds –
Down in waves –
Through fugs of fumes, rasping motors,
Down like a duvet, deadly drifting –
To guzzle and gobble and gorge –
Among the sarny crusts and pasty bits,
Bruised bananas and apple pips.